Sledding in sunshine - now that’s a mom’s dream! We get very little snow where we live, but it only takes one snowfall a year to remind me that I hate the process of getting kids ready to play in the snow. You spend an hour bundling everyone up and then five minutes later they are ready to come in (well, with the exception of one December baby that could play outside all day in snow, but I’m not up for freezing all day to supervise). If you are looking for hassle free sledding, White Sands National Monument in New Mexico is your place!
About an hour from Las Cruces, NM, in the Chihuahuan Desert, White Sands National Monument preserves approximately half of the 275 square miles of gypsum dune fields. Steady, strong southwest winds keep gypsum sand moving and pile it into dunes of various sizes and shapes. The gypsum sand dunes absorbs moisture which glues the dunes together so they don’t blow away.
When you arrive, stop in the Visitors Center to watch a movie about the history of White Sands, get your Junior Ranger books, and fill your water containers (no water is available past this point, and you’ll need it after a few climbs up the sand dunes). Then, you can head next door to the Gift Shop to buy your sleds. Used sleds cost $10 and new sleds are $18.95. The supply of used sleds is limited (we snagged the last 3). You can turn your sleds in for a small refund at the end of the day ($3 for used sleds, $5 for new sleds), or keep them. If we had planned ahead better, we probably would have Amazon primed us some sleds to save some money. We got 4 sleds for the 8 of us to share, and that number worked out quite well. You’ll also need some wax, which you can purchase for about $2 at the gift shop.
Once you are stocked up with sleds and water it’s time to drive into the park! With the sand plowed to the side of the road, you’ll feel like you are driving into a winter wonderland. Approximately 6 miles past the entrance station you’ll come to a loop of picnic areas. Find one next to a dune you like and park. When we went in November the park was practically empty! It seemed like the perfect time to go. It wasn’t crowded and it was a perfect 55 degrees - not hot nor cold!
If you are traveling in an RV (or even a large van), you’ll want to leave your water bottles, snacks, diaper bag, and anything else you may need access to either on the picnic table (which we felt safe doing, but we had eyes on it and it was not busy) or just inside the door where you can reach it. The sand is moist and sticks to shoes really well, so to keep this a hassle free day don’t track it unnneceasarily inside your vehicle.
Once the kids saw the dunes, they were off to explore and scout out the best slope! It’s time for some fun! Enjoy the squeals and laughter while you soak in the breathtaking views of dazzling sand and mountains.
While they are running, wax up the bottom of the sleds. Once they decide on a spot, encourage them to go down the same route over and over again. Each time it will get faster and you’ll sled a little bit further. My husband and I had so much fun sledding too. It brings back some good memories of childhood! Remember, sled AWAY from the roads and parking areas! There are signs posted everywhere, but still we saw people sledding right into a roadway. Even if it is not busy, you never know when a car or large RV will drive by.
The baby had just as much fun sliding down on his belly and trying to climb back up, only to get halfway up and slide back down. It reminded me of the video of the baby polar bear. Never give up!
We spent about two hours sledding before it was time for us to get back on the road. If you have some more time here you may want to check out some of the hiking trails through the park.